So, you've won the project, signed the contract, done the work, and the client is happy - now what? Send your invoice and you're all done? Not quite - making sure your work has been accepted by the client is the next step.
Charlotte Kelly is a freelance project director - and wants to share her advice to help fellow freelancers wrap up projects in the most effective way.
"Often we deliver and think that's it, we've done our part. But gaining proper acceptance of your deliverables is a key to success in project management." Charlotte explains.
Acceptance is simple but essential - it's two things in writing:
- Confirmation that the deliverable is final and approved
- Agreement that budget has been used and there's no further work
But why does having a delivery approved in writing matter?
Without acceptance you leave yourself potentially open to issues like:
- Requests for additional work for a closed budget
- Endless rounds of iterations or late feedback from someone else in the business
- Feedback once the work is in the public, and changes need to be made
- Confusion about project status, outstanding tasks or leftover budget
- Delays in payment or getting your invoice signed off
"Make sure you speak openly with your client and get written acceptance of deliverables. This can be a simple document with a signature, or even an email trail - but having something in writing and agreement on deliverables being final and no further work required is essential"
Project acceptance can often run into challenges if the original scope of work was not clearly defined. If there's disagreement on what the client was expecting and what you've delivered, because that was not agreed upon or put in writing - acceptance can be harder. Charlotte reminds us of the importance of a clear scope of work or agreed deliverables before a project starts, to avoid this issue.
"Try to define your scope of work as clearly as possible, listing deliverables, rounds of amends that will be included and, importantly, anything which is not included. You can take previous learnings on this such as when you have faced the issue of a client expecting something you had no intention of delivering. This time you can state that it is not included or include it in the deliverables and add the cost to your costing"
Clear scopes of work make acceptance criteria and approvals much easier - it’s like a checklist of things you agreed to deliver, and the client agreeing you’ve delivered them.
"A great thing to mention in your scope of work are change requests. Things always change in projects, and if the client is requesting that you deliver something that wasn’t originally agreed, you can draft up a change request which shows what was originally planned vs what is now requested and show the difference in effort/time required in order to agree new costs mid-way through projects. Keep it very objective and always refer back to your scope to show what you had originally agreed."
Whilst it might seem like this is additional work - a little extra administrative work can save you hours of back and forth with the client in instances where things aren’t smooth sailing - especially with a clear scope.
Once you've had written acceptance, this is also a fantastic time to schedule in a project washup, ask for feedback or testimonials, arrange a time to discuss what work might be coming next, or simply follow up with the invoice ready for payment.
"Bringing your own project management skills up to scratch can really help freelancers in making sure they’re efficient with their time. Important skills such as negotiating project change, contesting scopes constructively and improving quality assurance skills can go a long way in leveling up freelancers’ abilities" Charlotte concludes.
We've developed a simple downloadable template which you can copy and paste into an email or forward as a document to make the process as simple as possible - just make sure you're including all of the important details, and make it as easy as you can for the client to approve or sign, using a platform like DropboxSign, Docusign or Signwell - which offers three free documents per month.
Charlotte Kelly is a Freelance Project Director.
You can book her online at yunojuno